Image via WikipediaFrance just made a significant contribution to NATO in Afghanistan by sending the battle group (Le Figaro - in French) led by the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Indian Ocean. Last year, NATO members France, Germany and the UK insisted on a timetable for a draw down in Afghanistan. The US administration responded with a "surge" tactic and the announcement that NATO would be out by the summer of 2011. My suspicion is that additional support from Europe was part of the deal. A nuclear aircraft carrier is a pretty big deal.
What impresses about the French under Sarkozy (I am not a big fan of his) is the aggressiveness of the French military. It was the French that chased down and killed Somali pirates - on land. The French naval forces in the region are effective while being low-profile. This new deployment seems to be part of the "surge" - a vast input of firepower as a parting shot so that NATO can leave without being accused of losing by those in the US who are very happy to send other peoples children off to war for no valid reason.